Part of the concern over online relationships is that they are superficial because the premise of the game is to pretend to be someone else. How could you possibly know someone well in such an environment? The thing to remember is that people "pretend" all the time in real life. People wear "masks" in real life and "putting on a front" is something happens in the real world as well.
I believe that whether you've met someone on the computer or in RL you still only see what they want you to see either way. Everyone shows their best face to the world. The potential for someone turning out to be a jerk is same for RL or computer. And I'm good friends with my EQ friends for the same reasons I'm friends with my RL friends Ö they are fantastic people with great personalities and a sense of humor that meshes with my own. [f, 27]
In fact, a significant portion of MMORPG players feel that they can be more of who they really are in the virtual world.
Other players feel that online relationships can be substantial because people are actually less superficial online. The removal of physical cues such as age, appearance, race and social class forces players to interact with each other with far fewer prejudices and stereotypes than they would in real life.
There is more a basis of knowing personality first... kind of a anti-judging the book by it's cover situation. For the most part, however, I don't see any difference between in-game vs. so-called "real life." If I've made friends with someone Out of Character while in-game... then that friendship is RL. Period. To think otherwise would be to believe there is such a thing as "Virtual Friends," and that, I don't believe in. [f, 29]
And as one player notes, the irony is that online relationships can turn out to be less superficial than real life relationships.
An EQ friendship is different from a RL friendship because people tend to open up more to others when in EQ, we get to know each other much more, we truly tell each other what we think/feel and you really create this amazing bond with one another. It's much less superficial than some RL friendships can be. [f, 15]
Finally, while many people are frightened by the prospect of encountering individuals with bad intentions in an online environment, those same individuals oftentimes underestimate the number of those same people they are encountering in real life. After all, the "bad" people you meet in virtual worlds live in the real world. Prudence and cautiousness are things that people need to keep in mind in both the virtual and the real world. And considering the restricted range of things that other people can do to each other online when compared with the real world, it seems surprising how worried some people get over online relationships.
Some people are hesitant to use the words "romantic relationship" or "good friendship" to describe these online relationships, and by and large, they are correct in that these relationships begin and develop in an entirely different way than face-to-face relationships. But just because they happen differently, sometimes in reverse, doesnít mean they arenít just as real and valuable as face-to-face relationships. If what we mean by friendship or love is really getting to know someone well, then perhaps environments like an MMORPG do have something very important to offer.